*Ahem* Hear ye, hear ye! Today I would like to wish MY SISTER Ericka, a VERY, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! Cheers to the woman who, 9 years older than me, made sure I had a proper 80s upbringing. Complete with a learned love for New Edition and Menudo. At 5, I remember thinking her room was magical. Right On! magazine posters of Michael Jackson (solo and with his brothers) and the two previously mentioned groups hung on her wall. She would play music from the radio while Soul Train was muted on her T.V.- so cool! She spent hours putting herself together so she could go outside and sit on the porch with her friends. I thought my sister was the absolute prettiest girl in the entire world. And at the time- I believe she was.
To give you a little history. I grew up spending weekends and holidays with Ericka and her mother, my father's 1st wife, on 91st Street, a little off of Ashland. I did not realize how "odd" or rather special it was for the child of a man's second marriage, to spend her weekends at his 1st wife's home. A classmate in grad school let it be known that this was different. I had no clue. Now they have a name for it: blended family. It wasn't a, let the sisters bond type of thing. Like every weekend I was over there.
Rosa, Ericka's mother, was a true Earth-walking saint. In more ways than one. She was wonderful. Although my sister was cool. She was mean as hell. I mean in hindsight it makes sense. Who wants to be stuck babysitting their kid sister, when there is teenage debauchery to get into? My stepmother's favorite phrase was, "take your sister with you". To which Ericka would roll her eyes and I would beg to stay. I had a love and hate feeling about hanging out with my sister. On the one hand, it was more fun than hanging around the house with Rosa. But at the same time, Ericka was so annoyed by my presence and how I was cramping her style that she could make outings a bit tortuous!
Ericka and her friends would go, let me rephrase, walk practically everywhere- Burger King, the park, The Plaza. Yes, let's take a moment and discuss that long walk to the Plaza. My sister would make me walk ahead of the group, even though usually I did not know where we were going. She would shout, "walk up!" I would be at least 3 feet away from the group. And then we would get to the mall and do...nothing! Although the smell of Mrs. Field's cookies has always been alluring and my dream was to have a boyfriend buy me a large cookie cake, I would rather have sat those outings out. If we weren't walking around the entire Beverly neighborhood, we would sit outside on her stoop for hours.
So on this day, her birthday, I would like to toast her! The woman whom when I peed the bed once when I was little, put two fingers at the top of my head, twirled me around while simultaneously spraying me with Lysol, in annoyance. Then put me in the tub! She says she doesn't remember, but I do. To the woman whom I saw my very first concert with- New Edition and the Fat Boys at McCormick Place I believe. She is the reason I was the only 4 year old in my class to have seen the movie Purple Rain in the theaters (my mom, a Prince fanatic herself, took us). My sister is responsible for me not liking horror films to this day; I have seen my share of Friday the 13th movies with her and her crew. Cheers to the woman who never had a problem with handling a situation for me. No matter how ridiculous. Like when I suspected an ex-boyfriend's new girlfriend was calling my house and hanging up when I was a teen. I called Ericka, who promptly called the girl and got her straight. Even though the girl claimed it wasn't her, the hangups stopped. When I had dates come to my sister's house, she would say things like, "I'll chop yo' tall ass down if you hurt my little sister!" I mean, who says that??!! She does!
While still underage, I would use her I.D. to get into clubs with her other friends while she stayed home. At 19, I could be spotted at all sorts of clubs like the "New" 50 Yard Line, in a black velour catsuit, thanks to her. During my sophomore year of college, I desperately wanted to come home and finish school locally. Just so I could hang out with Ericka and her friends. When I told our dad my idea, he fussed and immediately squashed that option, but I had to try.
We got into a really heated argument this past December. I never really argue with her, because she still is my big sister. But we got into a very intense verbal scuffle over the phone. I remember feeling really scared. I thought, if something happened to her, I would miss her tremendously. I would hate that that was our last conversation. I apologized perfusely via text and voice mail. She finally accepted my apology and shortly after, my dad and I visited her downstate to remind her how much we love her. I vowed that day to do anything in my power to make sure she felt respected and loved, if by no one else, by me. We have had our differences and with time we have grown apart. But while typing only the first couple of paragraphs, I was getting teary-eyed. The fond memories brought me back to a time that seems so far away sometimes. My childhood. It is not this grown woman's voice you hear while reading this post. It is the little girl inside of me, who is still someone's "little sister". In fact, my sister still refers to me as her little sister. For that, I toast her. How many people in your life still make you feel like your most meek, innocent self?
Ericka, I love you.